BLOG #1 – Sept 8th, 2016
David and Anna Less, and Ghassan Manasra, are traveling through Israel and Palestine meeting with all the Abrahamic Reunion peacemakers and coordinators. We will be posting blog entries from their travels and meetings.
Yesterday we had the privilege to visit with the elder statesman of the peace movement in Israel. Elias Jabbour is a seventh generation practitioner of “sulha”, the traditional peacemaking formula of the Middle East. He is in his eighties and has been a friend and advisor for the last sixteen years. Elias is a Melkite Christian Arab with a deep love for humanity and a keen insight into the problems of the day in Israel and Palestine. He does not blame or accuse, does not speak negatively or allow any personal suffering to color his views.
As we ate a delicious lunch prepared by his elegant wife Hayam, he began to expound on the need of the day. As I write this it sounds so banal but the experience of hearing his words was both deeply moving and a reminder as to the purpose of our work. He said the obvious in a manner that caused it to go deeper than the mind. What is lacking in Israel and the world is love. Our work is primarily creating arenas where the love inherent in every human being can be rekindled and emerge with its natural power. Love, he said, is more powerful than the atomic bomb. It is the most powerful and valuable of our natural resources.
Then he spoke on the two fundamental principles of a peacemaker. Firstly, a peacemaker must never get angry. Anger clouds the natural wisdom and compassion in a human being. In anger we lose the clear inspiration that is the key to making peace. Secondly, the peacemaker must never give up. He shared the story of a village feud that took thirty years to be settled and it was settled due to the perseverance of the peacemaker. We must never give up hope.
The lessons seem so simple and yet how many days do we live where nothing angers us? Can we, like Elias, control our thoughts and speech to remove negativity in the midst of a situation that so entices the negative? Can we truly not give up but plod ahead through the mud of doubt, fear, exhaustion and trauma around us and find the primal ground of inner and outer peace and share that with our fellow human family? These are the challenges we must confront and overcome. This is not an easy discipline. Peace is precious and cannot come without the discipline and the desire to make it a reality.
Today the peacemaker must be both an individual and part of a greater whole. We need each other to create the vision and model of a peaceful society. Our work is often lonely when we forget this but so healing when we are part of a team making peace. I am grateful for the support, love and prayers I feel from so many around the world at this time. I’m deeply thankful for this and feel I represent so many in my journey here.
BLOG #2 – Sept 9th, 2016
Yesterday we spent the whole day in the northern part of Palestine meeting with two of the coordinators of the Abrahamic Reunion. The feeling in Palestine is both very different than Israel but also very similar. As we drove through I was reminded once again of the beauty of both of these powerful lands and the depth of history, ancient and modern to be felt in the Holy Land. My mind says of course there is this history but feeling it in my cells and heart is a very different experience.
I was thinking this Palestine is the land of Goliath and the Palestinians, (the Philistines), have been getting bad press ever since David hit his mark. Over and over, every Palestinian I spoke to urged me quite strongly to tell the world, “we are not terrorists, we are not murderers. Don’t judge six million people based on the actions of a few”. I was surprised at the consistency of one other message from so many.”our land is under occupation and it is amazing there is not more frustration”. From the Israeli point of view any act of violence is not acceptable and certainly I understand and agree with this point of view also. So the separation continues. How can there be peace when the model is separation. Jewish Israelis are not allowed to go into Palestine. Palestinians have great difficulty entering Israel. Its not just the physical wall that separates it’s the psychological one that is even more powerful.
I am living in a house in Israel now with a family that has been stabbed, shot at, their dwelling destroyed and still live in fear that this could be repeated at any moment and the reality is that it could happen. As I write this I can imagine the reader asking who did the violence so we can understand or even subconsciously blame. That thinking creates more confusion and hurt. The whole situation is to blame. There must be a real process begun not a political charade on all sides. With all due respect I’m not sure the politicians want peace. The peacemakers must make peace in themselves and then one person at a time. The peacemaker is confronting deep and confused energy and she or he must learn the art of inner peace as well as the conceptual outer so the process can begin. Finding the chink in the armor of confrontation and separateness. This is our work.